I was traveling across the Archdiocese recently for a parish visit, with one of our permanent deacons doing the driving. We discussed a number of things in the course of the drive, including many of the pastoral challenges we encounter among our parishioners and families. As our minds turned to some of the root causes of the difficulties, the deacon made a very good point. He spoke about the ironical approach many of us take to securing our homes. We will spend a lot of time and money on locks, bolts and sophisticated security systems in order to keep out from the sanctuary of the home persons seeking to do us harm. Yet, once safely ensconced in the house, we turn on the television. By that simple act, we let into our homes and into our minds a dizzying array of voices and messages, a great many of which exert an influence that is anything but good. Excellent point.
This raises the question: what are we letting in? Not just into our homes but into our minds? Are we even conscious of this? It is, in fact, an urgent issue. So many of the problems besetting individuals, families and society arise from what we “let in” to shape mindset and behavior.
On Sunday we heard two parables of Jesus, by which he teaches about the dynamics of the Kingdom of God. (Mark 4:26-34). When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom, he means God’s exercise of sovereignty in our lives and invites us to submit fully to it. In these parables he describes the working of God’s sovereignty by means of the imagery of seeds. He speaks first generally of the dynamic of slow and deliberate growth of all seeds. Second, he makes a specific comparison with a mustard seed, which, although very small, will grow to become “the greatest of all shrubs.”
As we strive to counter the false and damaging messages we have allowed into our minds, this teaching of Christ is a reminder to allow in the Word of God. His voice alone is safe and trustworthy. By opening our hearts and minds to God’s Word, his sovereignty will take hold in our lives. If, trusting in his love, wisdom and providence, we submit to God, his rule will slowly and surely transform us. Even if we begin with small steps (e.g. reading Scripture for five to ten minutes daily), the “mustard seed principle” will take effect and God’s grace will bring about great transformations in our lives and in our world.
Let’s pay very close attention to what we let in, to be sure that no intrusion will seduce us away from hearing and heeding the Word of God.